A physician assistant who worked at the La Pine Community Health Center has been reprimanded by the Oregon Medical Board for inappropriate interactions with a patient. It’s the second time in two years that an employee of the clinic has been in trouble with the state for sending sexually explicit text messages and violating state licensing rules.
The Oregon Medical Board reprimanded Arden Jay Gage Jr. and fined him $2,500 for unprofessional conduct, as well as negligence and improperly prescribing a drug. Gage in December signed the order, which was finalized this month.
According to the stipulated order, the board began investigating Gage after he was fired from La Pine Community Health Center on Sept. 28, 2011. Gage did not return a call for comment.
The investigation revealed Gage treated a woman with a history of sexual abuse and mental health issues between March 2010 and September 2011.
According to the board order, Gage twice prescribed a weight-loss drug to the woman, even though her body mass index didn’t meet the requirements for the treatment.
The pair began texting back and forth in June 2011, the order states. Gage invited the woman to events by text; some of the texts were explicitly sexual, “and suggested that he was seeking sexual favors.”
On Sept. 21, 2011, the woman visited the clinic for an exam, the order states. At the end of the visit, Gage gave the woman a motorcycle rally tank top and then closed the door to be alone with her and tried to kiss her. After she left the clinic that day, Gage sent her another sexually explicit text.
It’s the second sanction against a physician assistant at the clinic in about two years.
In October 2011, Brice Tyler Stanley had his license revoked after hitting on a patient and texting inappropriate messages to a co-worker. Stanley had been placed on 10 years’ probation in 2008 for inappropriately touching a female patient, texting her personal messages and performing treatments on her without authorization.
Charla DeHate, the CEO of the La Pine Community Health Center, said the current leadership at the health center was not in charge when Gage and Stanley engaged in the misconduct.
“Unfortunately, or fortunately, we don’t know any details,” DeHate said.
In an interview, the woman, whom The Bulletin is not identifying because she is the subject of sexual harassment, said she was also the subject of Stanley’s sexual harassment.
As a single mom with a checkered past, she didn’t speak up about the harassment because she didn’t want to get fired. She eventually left the clinic after working as a medical assistant there for about 11⁄2 years.
The woman said she wanted her job back and asked Gage for a letter of recommendation, which he provided. At that point, she said, he began sending her texts that asked for sexual favors. After the incident in which Gage tried to kiss her, she said, she reported him to the clinic and said she was shunned by people in the small La Pine community.
“In a matter of minutes, my life was taken away. For what? For a man’s ego?” she said. “I didn’t ask for this attention. This year has been an uphill battle.”
The woman said the Gage incident brought back memories related to a 1993 sexual assault and that she struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. She said she reported the behavior because she didn’t believe she was the first victim and worried she wouldn’t be the last.
“He chose to destroy his career,” she said. “I chose to stand up.”